THE WAY WE LIVE NOW by Marian Thurm


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 In her third novel (Walking Distance, 1987; Henry in Love, 1990), Thurm, in her typically brisk, matter-of-fact style, taxis the reader effortlessly back and forth between Manhattan neighborhoods and several generations of a spirited family. Thurm revisits the themes of love, betrayal, aging, and death with a new focus: the difficulty of letting go. Again, the novelist shows a refreshing sensitivity to the elderly, who are given sex lives as well as grandchildren. Alexander Fine, 68, is nearly incapacitated by grief when his wife, Margot, dies. Margot, as vividly drawn as the book's living characters, had been hidden by the Nazis as a child and did not see daylight for years; thus Alex and his daughter, Leora, have trouble abandoning her to the permanent darkness of the grave. Leora and her husband, Spike, have just had their first child, and Leora has been aggressively befriended by Spike's first wife, Suzanne, abandoned by the man she'd left Spike for. While the confrontations between Spike and the two women are deftly drawn and funny, gradually the reader comes to share Spike's deep distrust of a third party in his marriage. Leora, meanwhile, resents Spike's shrink for the same reason. In the end, many loose plot-strings and characters are satisfyingly resolved in the standard comic-plot device: a wedding. Alexander marries his former housekeeper, Ionie, who is black; the couple plan to raise Ionie's granddaughter's illegitimate baby. Despite the likable, even brave Alexander, the book's light, glib tone does not quite suit this venture into interracial, interclass territory hitherto unfamiliar to Thurm. Ionie seems a bit too one-dimensionally jolly, despite her long suffering at the hands of her progeny. This unevenness aside, however: an engaging, fast-moving, appealing novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1991
ISBN: 0-553-07604-3
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991


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